Need a place for a quick bite and drinks after your tough work week in the FiDi? Well, if you don’t mind spending a little for some high quality bar food, we found such a place for happy hour. Roka Akor, once Michelin recommended, has been on my list for quite some time. Given that it was Friday afternoon with no plans made and a few friends ready to start the weekend, we decided to check out their happy hour.
The restaurant was huge in comparison to most Japanese restaurants in the city and that was only the upstairs. We headed downstairs to the bar, where I’d like to think we all belong. I mean we, as in us soon to be drunks. Away from the public eye and away from the classier patrons in the dining room. Okay, I may be going overboard. The downstairs was setting was still pretty nice and large. Plenty of small tables surrounded by lounge seatings with one bar stealing the center stage. We found seating easily and had plenty of attention from the wait staff.
Although the full menu was offered, their happy hour selection gave you a good sampling of their menu. We had to order at least one thing off the dinner menu. Not to say the discounted selection was bad, it wasn’t. It’s just their dinner menu looked pretty damn good. I couldn’t pass up trying at least one thing. You won wait staff. Now I have to come back for dinner.
801 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
+1 (415) 362-8887
Verdict: For happy hour food and drinks it’s a great deal. If you’re looking to mingle, you’ll have larger crowds elsewhere.
It was all about hitting the late night eats tonight. That’s because we did our run during the day. Something that set us up for the “I don’t give a fuck what’s for dinner” attitude. A perfect way for us to try out new places. At first we went with a suggestion from our friend in SF, Home Bar. It’s a sports bar that I’d find myself in twenty years ago. Good food, affordable prices, great portions, and plenty of alcohol. It was a mix no college grad would pass up. Not to mention the perfect place to be a bachelor. I would have been in heaven. However, after filling up, we decided to check out another place. A place that observed happy hour at a different time. That was, happy hour from 9pm – close.
The place I am talking about was Doraku. This wasn’t the place on the Waikiki strip. No. This place was a bit further out. The sister/expansion place that catered to the drinking crowd. It was big. Roomy enough to be the starting point for your night’s endeavors. A place I need to go to next time I was here. Plenty of parking in the garage adjacent to it. Enough seats for you to dine or enjoy drinks. And a good enough selection for you to enjoy any type of meal you want. I’d even risk myself to say it’s almost Izakaya style with the prices and portions. But I think the place just wants you to have a good meal with your drinks. With the sushi bar and main kitchen separated, you get the best of both worlds. Chefs and cooks catering to whatever you’re passing them and bartenders keeping your glass full. Now that’s how you run a place.
Sure you can find these places on Kapahulu, but if you want to be a little fancy, this was your McCormick & Schmick’s, Oahu style. And I mean that in all the levels running through your head. Yes, exactly.
1009 Kapiolani Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814
Verdict: Definitely coming back here for the happy hour.
Probably one of the few times you’ll hear me say, “I’m so glad it’s raining”. That’s because after these flash-flooding, zero-visibility, majestic thunderstorms, the temperature was going to drop. And that’s a good thing knowing I’ll be outside in a tux on Saturday. The bad thing was that it hit us right at the start of rush hour when all my friends were meeting up for food and drinks. So traffic became the first topic of the night.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. You want to hear about food.
Let’s start with lunch where we ventured to the outskirts of DC, North West DC in a little neighborhood called Columbia Heights. There was this one little restaurant that’s been getting high marks for not only pho, but their spicy version of it. Yeah, I know, I seem to be eating a lot of pho during my stay here. I’ll get to the reason in a later post. In any case, I dragged a friend out here to try it with me. The place was in the most unexpected place. Under a town home in an area where the shops all catered to a Latin demographic. Yet, all the reviews and raves were coming from quite the opposite. Were they people going out of their way for this? Sorta. This place, Pho Viet was only down the street from other pho shops. Other shops that were also getting high marks. Just so happens that this one had the highest in the food I was interested in. And I’ll tell you what, it didn’t disappoint.
3513 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20010
Verdict: I’m definitely coming back here.
On our way home we stopped off at a friend’s store that was gearing up to open in a couple of weeks. A store that just so happens to be, drum roll, another pho restaurant. This one was in the White Flint area, within Montgomery County. An area that I hadn’t seen a Vietnamese restaurant before during the times I lived in Maryland. An ingenious idea the locals are going to love. Wish this was around when we played ball at Tilden.
So later, after driving through the barrage of rain, we ended up at Clyde’s, or as they call this branch, Tower Oaks Lodge. Our usual meetup spot from back in the day. Just like the Hamilton, they serve up a wide variety of food. A bit pricey, but if you get here during happy hour, it’s a great time to sample food at half off. We already had our favorites and the ordering went all the way to last call. Good stuff in terms of eating and drinking till the cows come home. But unfortunately, I didn’t get to snap too many pictures. About an hour in, more and more friends and surprised guests had showed up. Photo time was over, drinking time was on, and the bit on catching up with everyone’s lives was the focus. Good times, great friends!
Tower Oaks Lodge
2 Preserve Pkwy
Rockville, MD 20852
Verdict: Yeah, can’t find too much to complain about when it comes to happy hour.
Thursday was a light day, for work at the very least. But the main thing I remember about this day was going form local local places, like a mall close to the university. We went there to check out how graduate students go to bind their books. Not bad quality for about $10 Singaporean dollars. I was mainly interested after talking to my co-worker about it the night before. Didn’t think these places existed. Guess it’s a known thing among post four-year students like myself. Maybe one day I’ll strive for those extra degrees. Well, whenever I win the lottery.
Afterwards, it was off to one of the big things I had planned for the trip, meeting up with old co-workers in Singapore. Man, what a crew. I already miss the spunk these fools slash closet geniuses, bring out in a little tech talk. But one of the things I found interesting, was why they chose to stay in Singapore. They are expats. They are married. There’s other cities in Asia that do tech. Among their personal reasons, one was common, safety. Singapore was one safe city, next to Tokyo, but with a lower cost of living. I guess some of the crazy rules and punishments do work out in a way. Now if they could just do something about the heat.
It’s Monday and yeah, it’s time to head into work. Feels miserable being in a new city filled with new things to do, but then you forget this was a business trip. Can’t really complain though. For one thing, I got to come out here, and the other, this was LinkedIn after all, not some stiff collar company I have nightmares about. Ahem, government jobs *cough* *cough*. So after work we headed out to Level 33, a bar imaginatively named after being situated on the 33rd floor of the Standard Chartered Bank building. Let me just say, it’s exactly what you’d think the place was for, the view. Great view. Food? Travesty. Do note this was the happy hour food and not the restaurant food. Not that I would go back to try it.
Anyways, it was about the company, and not in company like LinkedIn itself, but the company I was drinking with. It was hearing and getting inspired about people moving halfway around the world and having the right people supporting them. That must be so awesome. But after getting to know them, it’s no wonder why they get the support they need. We’ve hired some pretty kick ass people.
Afterwards I walked home and stopped by Lau Pa Sat Hawker Center. I wasn’t drunk but I needed to wash out that horrible taste in my mouth. Needless to say, it didn’t help. Only thing it really did was increase the amount of sweat I was doing. Late night buzz curing noodle soups were always a welcomed treat back in SF. In Singapore, as someone not acclimated, a very bad idea. After scarfing down my tasteless bowl of soup. I headed back over four long blocks and entered the hotel drenched. I looked like I came in from a rain storm. Wishful thinking. At least in the rain, I may have cooled off. Singapore humidity, one, me, zero.